Lakeland, Florida-based Publix recognized six associates with the Mr. George Community Service Award during the company’s recent annual stockholders’ meeting.
Publix founder George Jenkins, known as Mr. George, believed that Publix and its employees should make a difference in the communities they serve. To recognize employees who exemplify his commitment to service, Publix established the Mr. George Community Service Award in 1995. Since then, 141 associates have received this honor.
“As a company, part of our mission is to be involved as responsible citizens in our communities,” said Todd Jones, Publix CEO. “Mr. George’s philosophy was simply to give, without receiving anything in return. The work these extraordinary associates perform continues his legacy of giving back.”
Each year, one employee from each retail division and one support employee are recognized with the award. These employees are actively involved in their communities, display personal integrity and represent the spirit of Publix’s late founder. Recipients will receive a personalized award, a feature in an internal company publication, dinner with Publix executives, three days off with pay and $5,000 donated to the charity or charities of their choosing.
Ben Robb, store manager, Madison, Alabama – Publix Atlanta Division
Robb serves on the board of directors of United Way of Madison County as the campaign chair and community impact chair. To assist people in his community hit hard during the pandemic, he created a bicycle challenge to collect bikes to benefit Christmas Charities Year Round. Through Robb’s leadership, more than 700 families were able to receive bicycles and toys for the holiday season.
Kelsey Palmer, assistant customer service manager, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina – Publix Charlotte Division
While involved in several community service activities, Palmer is passionate about helping veterans. In addition to volunteering with VA hospitals, she also supports the Fisher House, a home away from home for families of veterans receiving care at the local VA center.
Rhett Bagwell, store manager, Tallahassee, Florida – Publix Jacksonville Division
Bagwell joined the board of United Way of the Big Bend in 2017 and has been actively involved since then. He volunteers with the Reading Pals program mentoring struggling readers, from preschoolers to third graders.
Stacy Bidwell, assistant customer service manager, North Port, Florida – Publix Lakeland Division
Bidwell is involved with All Faiths Food Bank, working to alleviate hunger in her community. She recently began working with the Women’s Resource Center, an organization helping clients rebuild their lives after domestic violence and sexual assault.
Erika Serkin, store manager, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – Publix Miami Division
As an involved parent, Serkin is a member of the parent-teacher organization and sits on the School Advisory Council. She also volunteers at Title 1 schools in her area, organizing food and clothing drives for the children and their families.
Melanie Bonanno, director of employment law and investigations – Support
Bonanno is a founding board member of Angels for Change, an organization which has helped children get access to lifesaving medications through advocacy, awareness and a resilient supply chain. She also serves on the advisory board of the Emergency Care Help Organization of Brandon, Florida, where she’s chaired their annual Thanksgiving event since 2016.
For more information, visit corporate.publix.com.